Aperture and Leopard's Time Machine WARNING

by Steve Simon

Bill Cheeseman brought up what looks like a potential problem that all Aperture users wanting to use the Time Machine feature in Leopard should be aware of. I don't think any of us want to take any chances with our libraries. I wondered how Time Machine might work with managed Aperture Libraries, using Vaults to back up. I think much more on this will come to light in the next few days and weeks and perhaps a final solution will come with the next update of Aperture. But in the meantime, let's be careful out there.

From Apple:

"Issue or symptom

Running Time Machine backup or restore operations while Aperture is running may lead to inconsistencies in the Aperture database.

Products affected

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

If you use Time Machine with Leopard, be sure to set your computer up so that Time Machine only does manual backups. Avoid performing either backups or restores while Aperture is running.

This document will be updated as more information becomes available."


Mihalis Tsoukalos
2007-10-27 08:56:42
It is bad but it is logical because Aperture's library is dynamic while Aperture is running...
2007-10-27 09:38:00
Yes, this horrible bug is perhaps a good this --> we need a new version of aperture!
2007-10-27 09:50:21
Wouldnt it solve the problem to exclude the Aperture Library from TimeMachine and Backup with the vaults as usual?
2007-10-27 10:07:43
I cannot understand how disconnected the Aperture team and Leopard seem to be for this issue to be found within 24hours of Leopard's release. I often wondered how TM would work with Aperture's Library (and sql db) and the vaults. Now we know, they currently don't !
For Aperture to start growing for the next version, this sort of useless teamwork within Apple is very poor. WAKE UP folks, Who is running the show.

(Was only going to use it after a few weeks/months anyway....)

2007-10-27 10:43:17
I wonder how doing a backup would affect Aperture? I can see how restore may have be problematic. Backup I expect would be a read-only operation no?
2007-10-27 11:37:43
Yes I'm surprised too that an Apple application would have trouble with 10.5. But its just a patch away, no problem.


Matthew Brown
2007-10-27 14:38:24
This is a general problem with backups; a backup taken of a set of files that need to remain consistent need a method to ensure they are consistent during the backup period; either the application writing to those files needs to be shut down, a method of telling it to quiesce is needed, or the application must be written in a manner so that its files are never inconsistent. The latter is very hard.

I suspect in the short term, excluding Aperture's files will help, and in the long run, Aperture will be Time Machine-aware.

2007-10-27 17:34:41
Pathetic. This is typical for microsoft, but I expected more from my first mac. What, did nobody in the entire beta program actually run aperture????
2007-10-27 17:41:05
Solution; store your library on an external drive that Time Machine does not interact with. My Library is kicking it around 90 GB these days, way to much to keep internal anyways. I work from one HD, and keep my vault on a third HD.
2007-10-28 00:58:52
I doubt any file-based backup system will ever work with a database. Ever.

The other problem with programs like Time Machine is backing up monolithic files. Each version will be a complete file, so if it's 20GB, then you'll have a backup that's 100GB after 5 days.

Justin Rousseau
2007-10-28 07:01:49
Just click Time Machine in system preference, click on the option and select your Aperture library to be excluded.
Just continue to backup your Aperture library with the Vault system.
VoilĂ !
Josh Anon
2007-10-28 11:34:05
C'mon guys, give the Aperture team some credit. Everyone at Apple has been working hard to get Leopard out the door. I'm sure someone found this issue while testing, which is why a technote was posted so quickly. Would you rather the team focus on building a version 2 of Aperture or forcing an existing version to deal with something that the user could fix himself just by running manual backups or by excluding your Aperture library from TM all together? Is it ideal? No. But when you have limited resources, sometimes you can't do the ideal thing all the time. Thanks to those of you who have posted work-arounds!
2007-10-29 05:45:17
"inconsistencies in the Aperture database" require someone to call this as totally unacceptable. What's 'credit' got to do with it...eh ?

Job Number 1 is to not screw with the users data. Does TM and Aperture do this ?
Apple must explain what's going on here before I trust it knows what its doing. How dumb does that sound? I'm not paying to beta test 10.5, Aperture 1.5.6 AND risk delete my images without knowing in the process...How bad does it get ?

Cheesy peeps josh, Aperture's reputation is important so lets be clear what we will and won't accept in terms of compromise. This is not accaptable to me.

Head over to Ars Technica's Leopard review where John Siracusa sheds some light, p14 talks about TM's use of hard links and how it cannot currently handle large databases well eg. Entourage's .pst files. Aperture's library falls into this category although not explicitly mentioned. (He likes Leopard).

Guess the Aperture library ain't going to benefit from TM until 10.6. Stick to the current Backup routines and lets have Apple tells us how to configure TM to co-exist with Aperture libraries. Still can't understand how this missed testing...

Bill Cheeseman
2007-10-31 04:21:11
Apple has now revised its AppleCare article to advise that excluding the Aperture library from Time Machine will resolve the issue.
Will Norris
2007-11-02 16:37:32
The other problem with programs like Time Machine is backing up monolithic files. Each version will be a complete file, so if it's 20GB, then you'll have a backup that's 100GB after 5 days.

no you won't... if a file hasn't changed, TM makes a hard link of the file, not a new copy. You can run `ls -i` in Terminal to verify that the inodes are the same.

2007-11-04 15:48:02
How will the fix work if I have two users each with Aperture Libraries under separate accounts. I can log in as each user and exclude each Library ok. But what if both users are logged in at the same time and Aperture is left running? My instance of Time Machine doesn't know to exclude my wife's Aperture Library because my account can't see it in Finder (no permission to view that folder). Will all be fine?

This is one of those situations where Apple in its desire to keep things simple isn't giving enough information about how this thing actually works...

Tony Mortlock
2007-11-12 09:55:53
Aperture on my G5 Quad non Intel boots up and then just closes after about 30secs.
Have disabled time machine to see if this solves problem.
Will repport back
Tony Mortlock
Tony Mortlock
2007-11-12 09:58:53
Have tried disabling Time Machine but still Aperture opens for 30secs and then crashes. Any advice from anyone ?
Tony Mortlock